Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Christopher Bogiages


The purpose of this investigative action research study was to find new ways to disrupt the inequitable recruitment and enrollment practices in the sequence of AP English courses at a small, urban high school in the southeast United States. Through engagement in practitioner inquiry and guided by Critical Race Theory (CRT), this study sought to gather knowledge from the stories told by African American students about their choice to enroll in AP English and their experiences with their classmates, teachers, and the social environment in the course. Their counternarratives are juxtaposed against the limited perspectives of four White, female AP English teachers. By abandoning previous thinking about the problem and prioritizing the stories and voices of the students, this study revealed what teachers had overlooked: Black students’ participation in AP has been limited and diminished because of institutionalized racism in the form of microaggressions, isolation, and other social burdens. Despite the racism they face, the students in this study have thrived in AP classes by demonstrating resilience, determination, and a commitment to “opening doors” for other students. These findings and their implications for teachers, school administrators, and district office personnel are discussed in the form of an implementation plan designed to address the inequitable practices to which these students have been subjected.


© 2019, Leslie C. Richard